Supporting Healthy Eating Habits
I love meal time. After a long day of work and daycare, I get to come home and sit my daughter in her highchair for a nice meal.
While she eats, I have more time to clean up the kitchen or tidy up the living room and breathe for a moment. Don’t get me wrong, meal time has its challenges. The occasional food throwing, messy clothes, the many requests for “more,” but overall I still can move around knowing that my child will be in one spot.
Then it happened.
One day my child, who would eat pretty much anything I gave her, started saying no to everything. Everything except cereal. Cereal can be healthy, but it is important that she has more of a variety to her diet. But what do you do when your child pushes away everything you give them?
I’ll admit, I would become frustrated at times. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t get her to eat anything else and didn’t believe I was providing for her nutritionally. Then I realized that there are other foods she will eat. She enjoys fruit: mandarin oranges, apple sauce, and bananas. Knowing this, I made sure to pair those options with her choice of cereal.
I believe in independence and always allowing my child the freedom to choose what she eats. Of course there are always times when a dinner is prepared beforehand and other options are limited, but I’ve tried to keep different options of a side available. Still there are times she denies even her variety of choices and says “all done.”
What happens next?
I begin to eat my own food and then I see the little hand reach out. As a new mom, sharing my food has been one of the greatest life changes and is hard. My food often becomes hers. I’m sure many can relate to this. Over time I have chosen to look at this as a positive and use it to my advantage. My child will almost always, if not eat it all, at least try anything that I am eating.
The solution. . .
I sometimes have to sacrifice my cleaning for dinner with my little eater. When we sit and eat together and have the same thing on both of our plates, she is more likely to take bites. She even drinks her water at the same time as me and enjoys saying “cheers” as we hold our cups in the air (my favorite part). As parents we are our children’s first teachers, and in those early stages they want to be just like us. They copy everything: what we say, what we do, and what we eat.
So the next time your child protests about dinner, see what happens when you share a meal together. And when in doubt, serving them their favorite meal isn’t a defeat. At least they are filling those bellies. Happy Eating!
This blog was written by one of our guest bloggers, Jasmine.
About Jasmine. . .
I pride myself on being a writer, teacher, and self proclaimed world’s fastest diaper changer transitioning to a potty trainer. The title I hold that is my favorite of all is mother to an amazing toddler who makes all my days bright and full of nonstop energy.
Want more information on this topic? wichealth.org has a free online lesson called Help Your Child Develop Healthy Eating Habits. Find it on wichealth.org in the FeedIng Your 2 To 5-Year-Old category!